30 Days of Parkinson’s: Emotional Support Animals and Parkinson’s

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30 Days of Parkinson's

Courtesy of Jean Mellano

Day 2 of 30

Jean Mellano is the author of “Slipped Away.” This is her story:

In May 2020, I wrote an article about my pet bunny, Budgie, and how he has helped me emotionally live with Parkinson’s. To summarize, Budgie makes living alone a lot more bearable. He also is a constant reminder for me to live in the moment. I have learned patience from him and Budgie also reminds me how important laughter is.  

Since Budgie is a rescue rabbit, I don’t know his exact age. I guess it to be around 11, which makes him an old man. Budgie was just diagnosed with arthritis. As a result, the strength in his hind legs is deteriorating and he tends to fall to the side. It seems like only a month ago, he was doing “bunny 500s” around the house. Now, he can barely hop and he is incontinent. However, Budgie still loves to eat and is always looking for attention. I now stop and take more time to live in the moment with Budgie. My time spent with him now is even more precious.

To make Budgie’s quality of life as good as it can be, I have had to redesign his living space. That means lots of wee-wee pads covered with a layer of fleece so he doesn’t hurt himself if he falls and to also prevent urine scald. I had to decrease the size of his pen area to limit his mobility. Due to Budgie’s incontinence, I am doing a lot more cleaning. He gets pain medication twice a day and he also has a heating pad to rest on.

My friend asked me how Budgie was doing. When I told her that he is adjusting to his new normal, her response was that it was me who was adjusting to his new normal. I believe this is true. Animals, by nature, live in the moment. Unlike his human, Budgie is probably not thinking about what his future will be like as his arthritis deteriorates. 

Now it is my turn to help Budgie. I will keep him safe and comfortable for as long as he is with me.  


Note: Jean Mellano writes the “Slow is the New Fast” column for Parkinson’s News Today.

Parkinson’s News Today’s 30 Days of Parkinson’s campaign will publish one story per day for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPAR, or go here to see the full series. 

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